I love birthday parties, we’ve done practically everything over the years, bouncy castle, pool party, playcentre, karaoke, face painting. With having five children I’ve had chance to experience a lot.

I like to get in on the action, only once have I hired someone to do the party for me. However, now having three littlies with birthdays just weeks apart (and with me not getting any younger) I’m finding it all a little harder and any help is welcome.

For Boo’s 6th birthday last weekend I had help in the form of a Mega Princess Adventure Puzzle Party from Tall Tales Puzzle Parties.

I invited ten children but not all turned up, that is, sadly, quite common with parties held during the school holidays.

I usually end up spending weeks getting all the things I need sorted for a party like this but with the Puzzle Party Box I had everything I needed, I just had to sort food. The box comes with plates, dishes, cups, napkins, table cover, cupcake stand, banner, party bags, craft supplies, puzzles, prizes and sweets. Also there was a crown and sash for the party princess and badges for the guests.

This party comes with full instruction and taught me something I’ve not tried before. The party bags are handed out empty at the beginning and then sweets and gifts are added to the bags throughout the party so they go home full. Such a good idea and it really works, I’ll definitely do this again.

I made the cake myself. I tried to get it to fit into the theme of Puzzle Princess.

The party food
We started the party with a game. Provided in the box were a packet of little pictures. Before the party I’d glued one of each of the pictures onto five boxes and put them around the garden. Then the children were given a picture and had to find the right box to put them in. They then came back for more pictures. To make this a competitive game you should put the child’s name on the back and then count up how many they got correct. The children at our party were happy just finding the boxes and running around. When the pictures had all gone I gave them all a party bag with a pen to write their name on. 
The next task was a spot the difference puzzle which the children enjoyed doing and then they were rewarded with a packet a sweets for their party bags.
I was also provided with puzzle pieces after each task which go together to make the final certificate. Seeing as you get the completed certificate at the end I didn’t bother with these. I suppose had the children been a little older it might have worked but I was partying with a group of hyper active, over excited 6 year olds!
The second puzzle was a maze and the children were given two to complete. Again they did this with vigour and were really excited. Their reward was a sticker book for their party bags.
My instructions now told me to break for the craft activity but the children were keen to eat so we got stuck into the party food first.
After the feast the children wanted to do the craft activity in the garden so I took the crown tiaras and all the craft things into the garden where they had loads of fun. (Bonus, no glitter in the carpet!)
The children had so much fun making the crown tiaras, a few of them said this was their favourite part of the party. The results were amazing.
After the craft session we got back to solving the puzzles. Next up was finding the hidden stars which the children completed and were rewarded with a another packet of sweets for their party bags.
Then it was time for a game of bingo. Each child had a picture bingo card and I held up a series of pictures one at a time and they had to cross them off their cards. They really enjoyed this game and I carried on until they all had completed a card and won the next goody for their party bag which was a ‘diamond’ ring.
To finish off there was an anagram game. Before the party I’d hidden a series of letters around the room for them to find and assemble into two words BIRTHDAY PRINCESS. The letters were in two colours and the children split into two groups to find either red or blue letters. They were all winners though and the prize was to open the special box and present the new Princess of Puzzletania (the birthday girl) with her crown and sash. All the children then received a badge to say they had completed the puzzles. 
Boo and her friends had a fantastic time. I loved the structure of the party which meant there was no boredom. The whole event lasted about an hour and a half, then the children had a little time to play on the swings in the garden (and I got a well earned drink and snack)
The party was very different to anything I’d done before. We usually have party games like musical statues or pass the parcel, I thought the children would miss them but they didn’t even ask. 
I found that having everything I needed supplied in one box saved me a lot of stress and time before the party. All I’d done in preparation is read through the simple instruction sheet. Other boxes available include Dinosaurs, Fairies and Pirates. Or there are many others to chose from if you are providing your own table wear. If you are interested in hosting your own puzzle party do check out the website and you can use the code PARTY13 at the checkout for a 15% discount.
I’ve decided to make this post into a linky because I’d love for you to share your posts about parties and or celebration cakes. There are no real rules, posts can be old or new so long as they mention a party (of any kind, although please be aware this is a family site) or feature some kind of celebration cake. So please link up your posts and tell your friends. Feel free to add my party badge below for others to see and join in. 

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I was provided with a Mega Princess Party in a box for 10 children. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

With so many birthdays in the summer I am always on the look out for party outfits for my littlies. With Next you never had to look far and here are a few of my current favourites.

First up is this lovely floral dress which you can also buy in kahki. It’s lovely and summery and both my girls think it’s great. Made in cotton it would be lovely, cool and comfortable to wear as well as being pretty.

From Next in sizes 3-16 yrs £10.50 to £15.50
What little girl doesn’t love sequins and tulle. This is a proper party dress and a big favourite of Star aged seven
From Next in sizes 3-16 years £28-£34
I love spots and I love this black spotty dress which would be great for Boo aged six years.

From next in sizes 3 months to 6 years £22-£24

Finally for those real special occasions this dress is just beautiful. I love the beautiful beading on the skirt and the flowers on the shoulder strap.

From Next in sizes 3-14 years £28-£35

Of course no outfit is complete is complete unless you have gorgeous shoes too. Here are a couple of my favourites.

From Next £11- £14

from Next £24-£30

Not wanting to miss the Little Man out, he loves to party too. How about this gorgeous outfit?

From Next in sizes 3 months to 6 years

Now, lets get this party started!!

This post was written for the Next Network. I have received no payment or products. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

We were sent some Toy Story Fruit Pots for kids by Crosse & Blackwell 4Kids to review. They arrived in a lovely Toy Story lunch box, perfect for back to school. (If we ever find one!)

My Littlies are big fruit lovers but no so keen on jelly, in fact Star doesn’t eat jelly at all, so I was interested to how she would react to these little pots.

The pots arrived in a Toy Story lunch box

Packaging


The pots are the perfect size for lunch boxes, if we were not moving house soon and I was not on a complete ban from hording, I’d have definitely kept the pots for future craft projects. After removing the colourful Toy Story cardboard outer you find a little plastic spoon which is folded to fit neatly on the lid. The spoon clicks open and my littlies had no problem in doing this. The film lids had to be tugged off and these proved a little more difficult with all three littlies leaving some film behind that I had to pull off. No1Son (25 yrs) also had a little trouble removing the lid.
The litttlies loved the Toy Story images which inspired their initial excitement in the product.

Flavours


Peach in Strawberry Jelly
Peach in Peach Jelly
Mandarin in Orange Jelly
Apple in Raspberry Jelly
Mixed Fruit in Strawberry Jelly
Pineapple in Pineapple Jelly

The pots are packed with pieces of fruit and the jelly is made with fruit juice. The combinations are really tasty but the peach in strawberry jelly was the least favourite one.

Two of the flavours

What the Kids Thought


Star, 7 years, is the one who doesn’t like jelly. She was happy to give one of the pots a try though and went for the apple in raspberry jelly. She managed to pick out all the pieces of apple leaving the jelly behind. That was quite a good result though because normally she wouldn’t touch anything with any amount of jelly in it.

Boo, 6 years, loves fruit and jelly and was keen to get stuck in. She started with peach in strawberry but wasn’t keen on the flavours, so instead she had peach in peach jelly which she loved. She managed perfectly fine using  the little spoon that came in the pack.

The Little Man had the fruit cocktail in strawberry jelly and used the little spoon. He made loads of mess but he generally does make a mess with whatever he eats. He did eat most of it though, leaving behind just a little jelly.

I had the mandarin in orange jelly which was really delicious and refreshing. The jelly had a slightly different texture than usual jelly, probably because it’s made from fruit juice. It was also a little sweeter than usual but at least that was natural sugar not added.

No1Son tried the pineapple in pineapple jelly which he wolfed down and said was delicious but the jelly ‘felt’ different.

The Little Man couldn’t wait to get stuck in!

Verdict


Overall these pots were a big hit, I’d consider buying them. They are great for lunchboxes and picnics and I love the little spoon that comes with them. Maybe a little too sweet for every day but if they were to replace a chocolate bar or crisps then they would be much better choice. Each little pot contains one of your five a day so great for those who are not keen on eating just fruit. There are a good range of flavours so something to suit everyone. They do work out a little more expensive than a piece of fruit and as my children love fruit I’d probably just buy these as an occasional treat rather than an every day one. 
If I were to change anything it would be the film lid, it should be a little easier to remove for little fingers.
We were sent a lunch box containing six Toy Story fruit pots to review. All thoughts and opinions are my own (and that of my littlies)

Earlier this year I wrote about the Castle at the End of the Road and this week I was really excited as the girls school (at the end of our garden) had their sports day there.
It was a brilliant day, the kids moved around in classes taking part in each event. This meant we had a lot of running from one side of the castle to the other as our girls are in different classes. Both girls tried really hard and Boo managed to come second in the horse racing. The day was split up with a lovely picnic lunch right in the middle of the castle grounds. It was such a lovely way to end the school year, and of course it was my girls very last day at their school as they will be going somewhere else after summer and we move house. 
I’ll let the photo’s tell the rest of the story, as you can probably tell, the batteries ran out on my camera and I had to take some photos with my phone instead, that’s why the colour looks different in some pictures.
The Little Man wasn’t taking part so we took a few pics of him posing around the castle.
My favourite event was the horse racing. 
photo credit, Weoley Castle Ruins

I’m sharing our wonderful sports day with Coombe Mill and #countrykids, please click the badge to see many other fantastic outdoors with kids posts.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

I’m also Linking up with Ethan’s Escapades Small Steps Amazing Achievements because my little Boo managed to win a badge for second place. Also for Star who took part and really enjoyed herself despite coming last in everything because of her disabilities. Two real champions xx

Ethans Escapades

The other day I was honoured to attend the graduation of my Little Man from his pre-school.
It was lovely to join in with the other parents to hear about how our little ones have progressed and what they have achieved.
With the Little Man I’ve been through many worries. He was a difficult baby and a very slow learner. He reached all his milestones late and at one stage I was wondering if there was something wrong with him as all he did was cry, he didn’t sit up or roll over, he just lay there on his back. He never crawled, after he finally learnt to sit he progressed to bottom shuffling. He was a late walker, being nearly two years old when he took his first steps. He didn’t even attempt to cruise around the furniture, in fact he wouldn’t even put his feet down to stand. He language development was also slow and his vocabulary was minimum by the time he started pre-school.
I was wary about letting him go to pre-school. He’d been so slow I wasn’t sure it would be the right environment for him. I thought long and hard and decided that I’d let him go, but if it didn’t work out I’d just take him out again.

By the time he started his pre-school, called Little Builders, he was walking and had a small vocabulary. He seemed so young at 25 months to be leaving me all day, even for just two days a week. Surprisingly he settled right away. He loved the staff caring for him and loved going to school. Within no time at all he was on par with all the other children there. His language developed really quick once faced with competing against other chatty toddlers.

I never had any problems leaving him, well he didn’t have any problems, I missed him like crazy. He would go into his classroom quite happily every time. I always went in with him but he was happy to give me a kiss and wave me off. He’s certainly not a clingy child. Sometimes I felt a little jealous of the mum’s who’s toddler would be clinging to their legs, but in reality it was nice to know that the Little Man was confident enough to let me go, he knew I would be back for him. He always looked forward to his time at the Little Builders.

His graduation was a big deal for me, my little boy who had seemed so far behind the other children at the start had grown so much and learnt so much. Being an August baby he’s always going to be one of the youngest in a school group, but now I don’t have to worry that he’ll be playing catch up. To top it all, he is completely toilet trained and I didn’t really have much trouble with him.

I’m so proud of my Little Man, and this is most certainly one my most magic moments of this year.

The Olivers Madhouse

Ethans Escapades